“GLACIER COUNTRY” UNDER THE “BIG SKY”

SWE ZIN LE, Myanmar, Professional Fellow of Economic Empowerment Program 2014

Mingalar Bah!

It has been almost a week the fellowship program has started along with our home-stay. During the first week of amazing time spent together with ASEAN fellows at Missoula, most of us have been expressed the beauty of Missoula City and the activities which we went together, through our blog posts and via facebook fellowship page. I am glad we can reach to all the fellows around the States via this EEP facebook page.

I could not express how grateful I am to receive this opportunity from Mansfield Center to meet all the inspiring fellows in Montana. Not only we have shared our knowledge, learning and fun through the “Economic Empowerment Program” facebook page but also we have been keeping in touch through facebook group chat which is created for EEP fellows, our dearest Deena and Kelsey for live updates. And we named “Grizzly Bears” for our little group chat. It makes me feel closer and warmer to get updated via chat from the fellows although we are in different cities.

KALISPELL: One of the largest city in the North West Montana which I am staying for two weeks of my fellowship program with the host parents, John Balsam and Jerri Balsam, the caring family. I am fortunate enough to stay with John and Jerri whose house is located at the golf course and having the direct view of the ice capped mountains just from my windows. This city is just decent and peaceful.

City Tour – Thank to Kim Morisaki, my professional fellow coordinator for showing me around near her office, “Montana West Economic Development” which is just located on the city center. And the most interesting thing I explored about Kalispell while touring was, “The Conrad Mansion” – Charles D. Conrad. One of the most valuable and historic buildings in Kalispell which makes the city more vibrant by the visitors for their 90% original building structure and furniture since 1895.

People – There are two words for the people from Kalispell, “friendly” and “motivated”. I have received best welcomes, knowledge and souvenirs from the meetings I attended at Kalispell. I have also learnt that people I met at Kalispell are always motivated to help each other in terms of Business or Social issues.

Flathead Valley Community Collage – A learning center which is not only giving the affordable education to collage students but also help community in providing good guidance, information and trainings to improve business ideas and plans. I am glad that I was invited to visit and learn about school and classes by John Balsam and Jodi Smith.

COLUMBIA FALLS: A small city under Flathead Valley of Glacier Park Region that is 20 minutes drive from Kalispell. As Jodi Smith, Workforce Training Director was presenting for “Customer Service Training” for businessmen and businesswomen around Columbia Falls, I am invited as a guest to join. After the presentation, I have realized that Columbia Falls is bigger than it looks in term of small businesses involved with the Glacier Park.

Further to that, I have learnt that 80% of the visitors are “returned visitors” to Glacier Park. Perhaps, it could be the great impact from good customer service training!

WHITEFISH: A pocket full with tourists or city of uniqueness, always lively among any cities around the Glacier Region. It is just nice to walk around at the city to look at the souvenir shops or galleries. One of which named, “Stumptown Art Studio”, a non-profit art center is the eyes catching for me as it allows you to paint anything on the mugs or create your own glassware! And for "Non-Profit" which make it more unique!

EURECA: My last place visited during this week and it gave me a surprise. Eureca is at the very North West of Montana where by few miles away from the border of Canada. It is a town near the Koocanusa Lake, famous for the works of artists and few galleries which we passed by. Kim and I have also visited “Montana Wood Works” Furniture Manufacture Company, further up across the river from Eureca. It was such a worth long drive as we could see the great furniture works of "Amish although operating only with 22 employees, it is well productive and efficient work process. Not only I could witness the great works of Amish but also, it have taught me the efficiency and effectiveness of the US Furniture Business.

Only being in the Glacier Country for almost a week, I have learnt a lot more than I have expected either from the host parents for American Family lifestyles or Business Development flows of US by the arrangement of Professional Fellow Coordinator. Not to mention, I am also looking forward to experience and learn more from coming weeks!

– Cheers to the better days –

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